Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go: The Rings of Power
About an hour ago, we got an interesting tweet. Not a leak, for once, but for the first time since last year’s incident with the Two Trees, an Honest to Eru update, straight from the horse’s mouth. We now have:
(1) A name for the series (‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’).
(2) A one minute visual of flowing molten metal, with a voice-over recital of the Ring Verse.
(3) Confirmation that Season One will feature eight episodes, and the first two will total three hours in length.
My immediate thought? “Squeeeeeee!”
My more elaborate thoughts? Let’s break this analysis into three parts…
(i) ‘The Rings of Power’
The Rings of Power is a decent enough title*, linking the series to the familiar piece of magical jewellery we’ve all come to know and love. There is also a case for ‘Power’ here not merely referring to the literal Rings, though it obviously does do that, but also to the inevitable political power squabbles that will mark a certain island nation in the series. Nice thematic double-meaning.
*I’ve suggested elsewhere the joke title ‘Fantastic Rings and Where to Find Them.’
The only quibble I have: the leaks thus far seem to suggest that this will be a Númenor-centric series from the third episode onwards. The actual Forging of the Rings – and its immediate aftermath – either seems to be getting shunted into the first two episodes, or else faces a strange and creative smooshing with a different timeline. As such, it might be a tad strange if The Rings of Power isn’t actually focusing on the Rings of Power…
(ii) The Visual
It’s not a trailer, of course. Nothing that elaborate. More a teaser. And an intelligent one at that – we start off with what appears to be the image of a canyon and a landscape. That swiftly becomes molten metal flowing through a mould, inviting associations with fiery destruction, while a female voice-over (presumably Galadriel?) starts reciting the Ring Verse. Elves and Dwarves… with the flows of metal coming together from different directions, as if to speak of the interactions between the two peoples, and how the Rings affect them both (maybe it forces them to come together?). Then, just as the Verse switches to “mortal Men doomed to die,” a tide of water sweeps across, cooling the metal and sending up steam.
The thematic implication is that (1) the Númenoreans are the Men of the Sea, intervening in the heated affairs of Middle-earth and (2) the eventual fate of Númenor is foreshadowed – “doomed to die”, in water. One could further note that cooling water can be seen as a part of the forging process… Men wind up playing an important role in Sauron’s Grand Unified Rings Project, though we have no idea at this point how the series will treat the Ringwraiths, or whether we will get backstory for them.
(Meanwhile, the steam brings to mind Orodruin, and the smoking reek of Mordor – coinciding with the appropriate lines of the Ring Verse).
The clip concludes with the infamous Ring lettering being made apparent, tying the thing back to the familiar visual that casual film-goers will remember. All told, not a bad way of spending a minute, if you want to summarise the Second Age of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
(iii) Eight Episodes
Given the budget of this thing, the fact that we’re only getting eight episodes this season is actually a bit mind-boggling. Also, with the first two being an hour and a half apiece, we are essentially starting off the first season with a pair of movies, each longer than the 1977 Rankin-Bass Hobbit.
Since Isildur and company only appear from the third episode onwards, and given that we’ve seen Tirion and the Two Trees as a promotion shot, that strongly hints that these movie-length productions will be the cliff notes version of The Silmarillion. Or at least the bits of The Silmarillion relevant to the late Second Age. There is still a decent chance that we might see a cameo from Mad Uncle Fëanor, in the sense that he’s the reason the Noldor are in Middle-earth at all, and more specifically the reason Galadriel (and her brother) find themselves crossing the Helcaraxë. One really does wonder about that mooted spin-off…
Exciting times ahead for the Tolkien fandom, I suppose. 🙂
Addendum: It turns out that the teaser is a genuine practical effect, not CGI. They used reclaimed redwood and aluminium and bronze.